Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Culture of silence among women not working - WiLSA
By Fridah Nkonde
Thu 16 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

MEN who have any kind of infectious disease have an obligation to tell their partners about it, says Women and Law in Southern Africa national coordinator Maimbo Ziela. And Ziela says the culture of silence among women has not worked for them.

Commenting on the Chipata Local Court's order that a prominent Reformed Church in Zambia choir conductor, Charles Zulu, pays Loyce Nachona K5,000 as compensation for allegedly infecting her with HIV, Ziela in an interview said the court's decision was correct.

"According to the Penal Code CAP 87 under section 183, what the law says is that any person who negligently does anything which he knows and has reason to think is going to spread the infection or disease which is dangerous to life is guilty of a misdemeanor," she said.

"Now a misdemeanor is a minor offence. It is not one of the big offences we have but a minor offence. The act here does not say what it is that you would be sentenced to if you were to be found guilty. But it does say that you have committed an offence,"
She said assuming that Zulu knew that he was actually infected before he engaged in the sexual act with Nachona, he had an obligation to actually tell his partner that he had an infection that may cause harm to life.

Ziela said people knew the level of danger inflicted on the person who becomes infected with HIV, adding that the ruling in Zulu's case was appropriate in the sense that it found the person guilty of an act that could cause harm or danger to another person.

"But that is assuming that the facts which are written are exactly the facts that happened on the ground. You have got to know what exactly happened. It is very difficult to point at a person that this is the person that infected me," she said.

"But you see, the problem is not so much with me who is saying this is the person that infected me but with the person who is infected and knew that the act would cause harm to the another person. There, there is a problem."

Ziela said the background of the provision was that "any person who did an act not authorised by law or omits to discharge a legal duty and causes common injury or danger or annoyance to another person, commits a misdemeanor of a common nuisance and is liable upon imprisonment to a term of one year".

And Ziela said there was need to keep teaching women how to speak out.

She said there was also need for all counsellors to begin to teach women how to take care of themselves in all areas.

Ziela said women needed to ensure that they did not perpetually remain victims of disease and violence.

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